There was heavy and uninvited silence in the house while my younger twin brothers prepared for their middle school graduation. We were all packed like sardines in my mother’s bedroom when my youngest brother turns to us with his first tie undone. Sheepishly, he looks at my mom and says, “ Mom, I can’t tie a tie.” My mother rushed over to him and quickly made an attractive knot around his neck. I forced a smile to surface while I wished the worst karma possible on my father. It was huge accomplishment for my brothers that day; yet there we were; all of us stuck with the painful reminder that we were still children from a fatherless home.
I have long made peace with my life without a father. My brothers on the other hand, are men in the making; they will have a slightly different path. Women, who are raising boys alone, understand this confusing and frustrating quest. At times, it can seem like a language barrier limiting a family from loving one another unconditionally. Leaving women like my mother, spent. When my brothers were younger, my mother and I would double team as authoritative figures. We would try to help close any spaces we could find. However, she and I were almost always left drained; having long lost hope on how to replace a missing male figure.
We know many women just like us. We watch and hear their cry everyday. Like the mother who scrambles around town placing her son in every masculine activity she can afford. She works two and three jobs to pay for his uniform and schooling; her son as a result, loses a mother to late night shifts as well as an already absent father.
It is much greater than a financial gap in a single parent home. It is the decisions that a mother will make out of desperation to avoid what she fears her children will lack. Like, the mother who mother dives head first into religion. She clings to every “decent” man she finds in the chapel hoping he will guide both her and her son to a more substantial way of living. Or the home with a revolving door; a single mother pushes every man she dates into role-playing the responsibility of being a husband and a father. I have many male friends who have shared personal testimonies on rape and molestation with this as their starting point.
It is the damp pillows that will lay thick and heavy in each room; or the seething bitterness that will rise ceiling high without warning. Such a consequence to pay, especially when all a mother ever wanted was a father for her son.
*To my brothers, you are worthy. May God continue to bless your journey*